I am up early today to watch the closing of a 30 year chapter of space flight for our nation. With the weather looking marginal and a dramatic last second hold at T -31 seconds, Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-135, was hurdled into space on her last mission and with it the winding down of the NASA Shuttle program.
In the words of Commander Christopher Ferguson to Launch Director Mike Leinbach just before launch:
"The shuttle's always going to be a reflection of what a great nation can do when it dares to be bold and commits to follow through. We're not ending the journey today, Mike, we're completing a chapter of a journey that will never end. You and the thousands of men and women who gave their hearts, souls and their lives to the cause of exploration … let's light this fire one more time, Mike, and witness this nation at its best."
I grew up watching and being inspired by our quest to explore outer space, from Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle programs. Today, much of the technology I use in my business has its genesis in the research and development of the space program. I will miss this era of watching the most technically advanced machine ever built, travel to earth's orbit. But we move on. Many questions emerge as we contemplate our new direction in space exploration, but we will move on.
We are explorers. As human beings we are driven to discover what is over the horizon. We are on a journey that will never end.